By Jon Gabrielle, Stars correspondent.
Joe Nieuwendyk, the General Manager of the Dallas Stars, is a bright man. Anyone who has spent any amount of time with him, myself included, is well aware that this is as articulate an executive as one will find in any sport. An Ivy League education at Cornell University can have that effect.
While playing three years at Cornell, Nieuwendyk scored 68 goals and added 71 assists for 139 points in only 73 games with the Big Red. In 1987 he was nominated as a Hober Baker Award finalist.
Of course in Dallas he is better known for his exploits as a Stanley Cup member of the Stars in 1999 while taking home the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs.
Retiring in 2007 due to recurring back problems, he has experienced a meteoric rise through the executive ranks in a few short seasons.
But this is today, and now his team, the Dallas Stars are testing his analytical skill-set in ways even he has never experienced.
After Marty Turco shutout the Phoenix Coyotes yesterday at the American Airlines Center, 4-0, the Stars continue to tread water in 10th place in the Western Conference standings.
Therein lies the problem for the rookie G.M. Will he be a seller or a buyer at the trade deadline?
With more than a couple of players at the end of their contracts, Turco & Modano to name two, some difficult decisions have to be made.
Do you keep this team together, perhaps adding another player or two, in hopes of making a strong run to and into the playoffs? Or is that a pipe-dream, and the wise move is to dump older players now in favor of future assests? Nieuwendyk has to ask himself if this team can reasonably be expected to make a Cup run…or is a complete overhaul and new beginning the way to go?
Combine player personnel moves with the fragile situation involving Tom Hicks’ group, and any decision seems tenuous at best, not knowing exactly where ownership stands in terms of a financial committment.
So at the end of the day. Joe Nieuwendyk might find himself with more questions than answers.
The official trade deadline comes only days after the Winter Olympics on March 3rd. By then we might have some answers.
In the meantime, Marc Crawford and the Dallas Stars will try and keep their focus on the ice, trying to win hockey games with some semblence of consistency. Something that has eluded this group all year.